President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed bills renewing the broadcast franchises of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Manuel Pangilinan-led TV5 Network to lapse into law.

The bills, which gave the CBCP and TV5 separate 25-year franchises to operate radio and television systems nationwide, were passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in February.

Duterte did not sign the bills, but they lapsed into law on April 22, 2019 in accordance with the Constitution.

Copies of Republic Act (RA) 11319, the CBCP franchise, and RA 11320, the TV5 franchise, were released to reporters only on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

The passage into law of the CBCP and TV5 franchises raises into question whether Duterte would do the same to ABS-CBN Corp., whose legislative franchise expires next year.

Duterte has been critical of Catholic bishops and has also accused PLDT, led by TV5 top honcho Manuel Pangilinan of owing the government billions in taxes.

But Duterte has been most hostile to ABS-CBN over a longstanding dispute involving a 2016 presidential campaign ad, and what he perceives as the Lopez-led network’s negative coverage of his administration.

ABS-CBN, the country’s largest broadcast network, is said to be preparing for the worst, in case its franchise is not renewed.

Duterte had approved a 25-year franchise for the Delta Broadcasting System of El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde, who endorsed most of the administration candidates for senator in the May 2019 elections. (